Have you ever traveled on an airplane? Have you thought about what it takes to make the plane fly through the air? Watching birds fly, it may seem like it should be easy. In the very first attempts to fly, people would make wings similar to the wings of birds to try to achieve flight. Through a lot of trials and learning, men and women discovered that it takes more than just big wings to get off the ground.
Engineers have to understand a lot about science and math to be able to design a plane that can fly through the air. Decisions have to be made about the materials that will be used (not too heavy but strong enough that rushing air doesn’t tear it apart). Wings have to be designed in certain ways to allow air to flow around them in specific ways. The design also has to have ways of controlling the direction and speed of the airplane. Engineers have to understand how air responds when an object is propelled or moved through it quickly. Do you remember studying about liquids, solids, and gases? Gases, like air, compress and expand to fit the area available to them. That means gases will react in unique ways to objects flying through the air.
The science and study of flight and how all these factors work together is called
(This word comes from the Greek words that mean air and navigation.)
We will be learning more about aeronautics in the next lessons.
Watch this short video showing the changes in airplane design throughout the years as scientists and engineers learned more about aeronautics.